Exploration of the creep properties of undisturbed shear zone soil of the Huangtupo landslide

Chun Li, Huiming Tang*, Dawei Han, Zongxing Zou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
213 Downloads (Pure)


The time-dependent soil creep behavior affects the strength and deformation of the shear zone in landslides. Limited studies have been carried out on the undisturbed soil samples from the deep shear zone due to the difficulties in obtaining them. This problem is investigated using a case study of the well-known Huangtupo landslide, which is the largest landslide in the Three Gorges Reservoir area of China. The creep properties of the undisturbed shear zone were studied using triaxial creep testing. Two creep stages (the primary stage and the attenuation secondary creep stage) were observed, which were characterized by a creep rate that approached zero, instantaneous deformation and the development with a constant speed. The long-term shear strength of the shear zone was calculated based on the test results. The creep stages and long-term shear strength are significantly different from those of direct creep tests of reconstituted shear zones due to the influence of the confining pressure and coarse particles. The Computerized Tomography (CT) scanning technique was also applied, and the results showed clear rotation of some coarse particles in the middle parts of the samples, which was reflected by their shapes. The changes in particle position were more significant at the bottom of the sample. Based on these results, an empirical constitutive model was proposed to describe the relations among stress, strain and time, and this model fits the experimental data well. The inhomogeneity of the undisturbed soil samples leads to different creep properties from those in ideal theoretical models; therefore, new stochastic constitutive models should be explored and developed for further studies.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
JournalBulletin of Engineering Geology and the Environment
Early online date18 Oct 2017
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Oct 2017


  • Constitutive model
  • Creep property
  • The long-term shear strength
  • Three axial creep testing
  • Undisturbed shear zone

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